I like to do a post around Mother’s Day about being…well, being a mom. I spend this time of year reflecting on what motherhood has taught me as my children grow and change.
This year I went from being a mom of one, to a mom of two. And it was HARD. Well, okay, not all of it was hard. Some of it was easier than expected. Ethan was an easy baby in areas Caleb was not. And since we’d done the newborn thing before, we were much more relaxed about the whole thing.
The hard part was Caleb getting adjusted to the world not revolving around him any more. There were times he would just stand in front of me while I was nursing the baby, holding his Blanky, wailing at the top of his lungs, because he suddenly decided he needed to sit on my lap RIGHT NOW. And his two-year-old molars started coming in so he cried all the time. It wore my nerves down to nothing. Add in the sleep deprivation, breasts whose milk production would just not stabilize, and post-partum depression, and I was a mess. Once I got on antidepressants life got considerably better, though. And Ethan did eventually start sleeping through the night. Caleb began to see his little brother as a person, not just this weird creature who had taken over our lives, and interact with him.
So how has motherhood changed me this year?
I have become a lot less judgmental. Come on, girls, you know you do it too. It’s so hard not to. I believe it’s born out of our desire to feel like a good mom. And the easiest way to feel good about yourself is to be critical of others. My two boys are such different little individuals. I really truly realized I cannot take credit for a lot of things my children are. God made them certain ways, and my job is to learn how God programmed them and parent them accordingly. Not everything works with every child. So that mom you see whose child is throwing a fit in the middle of the grocery store and she looks like she’s about to completely lose it? Be careful before looking down your nose at her. You don’t know what kind of day she’s had. You don’t know if she’s tried every method known to man and still can’t get through a public outing without her child having a first-class meltdown. Because there are some kids who are just like that, and the best their mommies can do is just survive the difficult years. And they need sympathy, not dirty haughty looks.
I have learned to roll with the punches. Life rarely goes as planned with little kids. They’re unpredictable little creatures. And life is a lot happier when you roll with it. For example, our Mother’s Day in no way went as planned. Caleb had a horrible allergy attack and could not stop coughing, poor thing. So instead of going to church as a family, Husband stayed home with the boys and I went by myself. Instead of pouting about it I decided to revel in the fact that I got to have a little time to myself. It was wonderful. We were all supposed to go to my grandparents’ house in the afternoon but we didn’t want to risk having Caleb around my niece just in case he did have a virus, so just Ethan and I went. We missed having Daddy and Caleb there, but I enjoyed the long, relatively quiet drive with Ethan. And Ethan enjoyed having all the attention! Caleb was doing much better after his afternoon nap, so we decided to hit up Souper Salad for dinner and my in-laws were down in town so they met us there. So not the day we expected, but y’know what, it turned out way better than if I had spent it sulking over how it was “ruined”. I’ve really been trying to apply that philosophy to life in general. It just eliminates so much stress!
I have learned that a calm, quiet tone often goes a lot further than yelling. Oh, I still yell sometimes. It’s a hard habit to break. Am I right?
I have learned how critical it is to stay connected with my husband. Neither of us can stand feeling disconnected. It is so important to carve out time to connect with your spouse. And it’s good for your kids, too, to see their parents making each other a priority. Kids may act grossed out when you smooch in front of them, but deep down inside it gives them a sense of security. So don’t be afraid to be schmoopy and have date nights. They may pitch a fit when you leave but the universe doesn’t revolve around them and they’re going to have to learn that lesson sooner or later. I love my children but I love their Daddy too and I refuse to put my relationship with the man I married on the back burner.
I have learned to have way more grace for myself. I am not a perfect person, and therefore I am not ever going to be a perfect mother. I am going to make mistakes. I am going to look back when my kids are grown and see things I could have done differently. That’s reality. So when I mess up, instead of spiraling down into the depths of despair and thinking I’m going to screw my kids up for life, I pick myself up, dust myself off, apologize to my kids if I need to, and move on. Mommy messes up sometimes too, and Mommy has to say sorry just the same as they do.
Those are probably the biggest points of the past year. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an adorable three year old who wants some snuggles.